Ogden, Utah – Fresh off one of the best seasons in program history, the Eastern Washington University women's soccer team has been picked to finish seventh in the 2015 Big Sky Conference Preseason Coaches' Poll, the league office announced Thursday, Aug. 6.
EWU's predicted seventh-place finish is the program's highest since the conference's coaches tabbed the Eagles to finish sixth in the Big Sky prior to the 2010 season.
Northern Arizona and Montana were level on points but the Lumberjacks received five first-place votes to the Grizzlies' four, giving them the edge as preseason favorites. Portland State was picked to finish third while Weber State, who received the other two first-place votes, and Northern Colorado rounded out the top five.
Idaho State was picked to finish sixth, earning eight more points than the Eagles. The top six teams in the final standings earn spots in the conference tournament.
Eastern returns 10 letter winners and five starters from last year's squad that won eight matches and returned the program to the Big Sky Tournament for the first time since 2009. Back are First Team All-Big Sky honoree Chloe Williams and Honorable Mention All-Big Sky selection Savannah Hoekstra. The duo combined to score 12 of the Eagles' 27 goals a season ago as freshmen as EWU welcomes back 78-percent of its scoring from 2014.
Bodnar welcomes in a large group of 17 newcomers, along with two returning redshirts. Eastern's 2015 roster consists of 13 freshmen, 11 sophomores, four juniors and three seniors, giving the Eagles just 21 combined seasons of NCAA experience, good for an average of 0.68 letters earned per squad member.
EWU began training this week in advance of an exhibition against Gonzaga on Friday, Aug. 14, in Cheney. Kickoff is set for 5 p.m. PT and is open to the public.
2015 Big Sky Conference Preseason Coaches' Poll
|Rank||Team||Points (First Place Votes)|
|1.||Northern Arizona||93 (5)|
|4.||Weber State||72 (2)|